The Human Side of HR: What Makes a Great Administrator?

Businesses are made up of a multitude of working parts. From upper management down to the mailroom, everyone has a vital role to play. HR managers are an essential part of maintaining a well-oiled machine; they take care of the people who work there and maintain the kind of workplace that inspires people to turn up day after day, year after year. They are the people behind the people. In order to do their jobs effectively, HR managers need to have a variety of skills in their toolbox.

Hire the Right People

Hiring is a major part of HR responsibilities. It’s important to hire the right people; you want them to be engaged, capable, and in possession of a skillset that compliments the current work goals and progress. An experienced HR manager needs to know how to hire the kind of person who fits the company culture and values, and who will assist in reaching long-term goals as well as immediate needs. The wrong person, or hiring a good employee for the wrong position, can be detrimental. The right person can not only fit into your corporate culture but can help that culture grow along with the business.

Effective Training

A good hiring manager can recruit employees with all the skills required to shape the company’s ability to succeed, but they also need to help mold the employee’s skill set into their brand and workflow through comprehensive and effective training. An employee with a wealth of talent needs to know how to apply that talent, not just for best results but also in compliance with legal and labor laws. A thorough training regimen outlines expectations, any company-specific training, as well as what the employee can expect from the company. This communication is vital to ensuring everyone, including the company, can comfortably fulfill their expectations.

Employee Retention and Satisfaction

The link between employee engagement and revenue is well-established. A skillful HR manager is the cornerstone of employee satisfaction — and employee satisfaction is the key to engagement. HR can utilize programs designed to show appreciation for employee work; anything from food to incentive programs can energize employees. Likewise, public praise and spotlighting distinguished employees as well as a culture of positive reinforcement can be effective. HR must also stay on top of employee needs, whether it be in benefits offerings or promotion and salaries. Employees should feel needed, appreciated, and like they have something to work towards.  

Conflict Resolution

One of the more complicated aspects of HR is conflict resolution. An effective HR manager should be patient, even-tempered and able to navigate employee interpersonal and professional relationships (as they apply to the job) with a delicate touch. HR should be attuned not only to the needs of the company but of the employees as they apply to a productive and effective workplace. Conflict resolution can range from small interpersonal spats to the larger legal issues, such as sexual harassment. It is important that HR managers be thoroughly educated and knowledgeable about conflicts of a legal nature, for the safekeeping of both employees and the company.  

Follow Through

Your employees rely on you to make sure their work lives run smoothly. From benefits to paychecks, they need you to make sure the company fulfils their end of the employee contract. Prompt follow-through shows your employees their well-being is important and the company is invested in making sure they are in a safe, productive atmosphere. If employees do not trust HR, they’ll be less likely to seek out solutions to any problems from HR. They will be more likely to become bitter or malcontent, grow stagnant in terms of work or look for employment elsewhere.

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An HR manager who utilizes these skills will be able to work effectively and harmoniously with their company and workforce. Their administration skills can help boost productivity and make the workplace somewhere employees look forward to turning up for a long, happy future.

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Common HR Mistakes Startups Make

Regardless of how small or large your business is, the team that you assemble to work for you is an essential component to its success. As soon as you begin hiring staff members to join your startup, you must take on important human resources responsibilities. In many cases, hiring and developing talent as well as maintaining relationships with each team member can be stressful and challenging, and serious mistakes can be made.

Approaching the hiring and management tasks professionally from the start is essential for the success of your startup. It can reduce the number of issues that you run into and their severity. This means that you need to develop and follow effective human resources policies and processes immediately, and these should be scalable to accommodate growth in the years to come.

Identifying common human resources mistakes that startups make can help you to avoid making these same mistakes yourself. These are among the more common mistakes that startups make in the realm of human resources.

Not Seeking Professional Assistance

It may seem like hiring an employee to join your team is a relatively straightforward process and that you require little to no help with it. However, hiring a human resource professional as soon as possible to facilitate the hiring and management processes can help you to choose the right individuals to join the team. This step could also help you to retain the talent that you have worked so hard to recruit.

A good rule of thumb is to add one HR manager for every 50 employees on your team. This ensures that each individual on your team is properly managed. It also can help your HR team to identify potential issues that need to be addressed, answer their questions to promote happiness in the workplace and more. It is wise to have your HR professionals hired before adding even more individuals to join the team.

Hiring the Wrong Individuals

Entrepreneurs may be stressed with many responsibilities related to starting and growing a young business. With this in mind, it is understandable that you may take the approach of hiring any individual to join your team who has the right skillset and experience. However, there are many other factors to consider when making a hiring decision than simply the credentials on a resume. For example, a new-hire should have the right mentality to fit into corporate culture, solid personal skills to be an asset to the team and more. Your hiring process should successfully screen applicants in all relevant areas.

When you hire the wrong individuals for your positions, you may have operational issues. These individuals or others in the team could become discontent when new-hires are a poor fit, and your employee turnover rate may escalate. This type of employee experience could ultimately cost the company a substantial amount of money. To combat this, you need to have a solid financial plan for your business, and you need to stick to it. This plan should focus on standardizing the hiring process and creating clear, effective criteria to make a hiring decision by.

Not Having Strong Company Culture

Many of the largest and most successful corporations have a strong and identifiable company culture. For example, Apple is known for its outside-the-box thinking and for hiring creative individuals with fresh perspectives. You may assume that a company’s culture simply develops over time on its own, but the reality is that culture is created by the business owner though individualized decisions. For example, the interactions between team members and management can lay the foundation for culture. Without culture, your business may flounder.

Because of how important company culture is in even small companies, you need to understand how to create it. Choosing policies and processes that are aligned with the culture that you want to achieve is important. Your management team’s interactions with staff members also should represent culture. As you create corporate policies and business processes, the concept of corporate culture should also be in mind.

Failing to Develop the Team

While you may go to great lengths to hire new team members by focusing on their experience and skills, the business world is constantly changing. You need your existing team to be dynamic, and their ability to grow to meet changing needs is directly tied to the training opportunities that you provide to them. Keep in mind that your team members may also be personally interested in advancing within their career. They do not want to feel as though their skillset is outdated, and they may have a goal of climbing the corporate ladder within your company.

Developing your team begins during the onboarding process, which is a time when a new-hire learns about company culture and professional development programs available to him or year. These development programs could include in-house training and mentoring, assistance obtaining certifications, college tuition reimbursement and more. Development opportunities should be offered, encouraged and available to team members free of charge.

Final Word

While many aspects of your business operations require constant attention and thoughtful effort, hiring the right individuals to join your startup team is essential. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make serious hiring and management mistakes, and these can ultimately be detrimental and costly to the business. If you are preparing to hire team members soon or if you are facing HR and management challenges, it may benefit your business to reassess your human resources efforts and strategies.

5 Tips for Running a Startup from Your Home

Starting a new business out of your home is a financially-savvy decision in many cases. Approximately 69 percent of entrepreneurs make the decision to base their startup out of their home, and for good reason. When you run a new business out of your house, you can save a tremendous amount of money on overhead. With substantial technology now available to facilitate a work-at-home environment, many entrepreneurs are not hindered in any way by running operations out of their house.

In fact, many of the most successful companies known around the world today were started at home. Just a few of these include Apple, Google, Amazon and Hewlett-Packard. As smart as it may be for you to launch a business from home, there may be some challenges to overcome. These helpful tips will guide you on a surer path towards success with your new home-based business.

Establish an Organized Work Area

Even through you are launching a business from home, you still need to have a professional, dedicated space to conduct your work activities. This should be a space that is free from distractions and that will not co-mingle with living activities for you and other occupants in the home. One idea is to remodel a spare room and to transform it into a functional home office space. This space ideally will hold all of your business equipment and furnishings. For example, you may need a computer, a printer, a copier, a landline phone, a desk, a work table, seating for clients, storage space, shelves and more.

Remember to also focus on the environment. For example, lighting and temperature can affect your productivity level and your ability to concentrate. As you remodel your space to create a home office, remember to focus on these important elements.

Create a Realistic and Practical Work Schedule

One of the many benefits associated with starting a business from home and being your own boss is the ability to have a flexible schedule. With a flexible schedule, you may be able to enjoy a better quality of life and better manage a work-life balance. However, this type of schedule may also lead to the likelihood of wasting time throughout the day. For example, you may be inclined to sit down in front of the TV for a quick break, but that break could easily extend for an hour or longer unintentionally.

To avoid wasting your valuable work time and to maximize productivity, it makes sense to create a schedule for your workday. Select a firm starting time as well as a finishing time. You can give yourself small breaks during the day, but most of your personal activities should be tackled outside of your work hours. There are some excellent time management and project management applications and programs that you can use to schedule your time as well as to monitor your breaks and non-work activities.

Find Support

Some entrepreneurs try to handle every task associated with running and growing their business. This requires them to wear many hats and to try to be an expert in everything that they do. This essentially can pull your attention away from the tasks that you are truly good at and that require your personal attention. Some tasks may easily and successfully be outsourced to professionals. Because of their expertise, you may enjoy better results and be able to use your time more effectively in the process.

When you search for independent contractors or freelancers, look for individuals who have expertise in an area that you are weak at and who charge affordable rates for their services. An outsourcing relationship should ideally add value and help you to work more efficiently.

Connect with Others

It is easy to feel isolated and closed off when you work from home, but it can be detrimental to your efforts to seal yourself off. Reach out to other home-based business owners in different ways. These may be individuals in a related field that you may be able to work with professionally. It may be people in unrelated fields who you simply socialize with to get support as needed, get recommendations for service providers and more.

While there are online groups that you can join, try to find live support groups or networking groups as well. These could be professional groups and clubs, or the y could be informal groups that you pull together on your own and that grow over time. You can even use these groups to casually promote your products and services.

Choose Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies

Regardless of whether you run a home-based business or your base of operations is in a more professional environment, marketing is essential. However, you likely decided to launch your business from home at least partially to conserve funds. Understandably, you also want to conserve money on marketing without negatively affecting business profits and growth.

There are many cost-effective marketing options to consider, such as through social media, email marketing, cold calls, networking events in your local area and more. Remember to use your professional network to get the word out as well. You could spend a fortune on marketing, but a cost-effective campaign that is based on thoughtful, focused effort may have just as large of a return.

In Conclusion

When you run your own business out of your home, you have the flexibility and freedom to manage your activities in any way you desire. While there are no hard and fast rules regarding most aspects of your operations, you can see that these tips can help you to remain as productive as possible while also bolstering your chances for success. As you move forward, keep these tips in mind.

5 Tips for Startups for Achieving Global Reach

Sometimes, your product or service will be such that there’s no practical reason to restrict your operations to your local region. In this situation, it might be more lucrative to aim for global reach. Sure, you don’t have to appeal to the whole world at the same time, however, sometimes it’s enough just to make your product universally available. In order to get the most out of it from the very start, you need to learn how to achieve a global reach with your startup in the simplest, most cost-effective way. Here are five tips that might help you out.

Build a highly graphic brand

One of the first lessons that every startup should take is one made by one of the world’s largest brands Coca-Cola. During their Ramadan campaign, they removed all the labels from their cans, yet all the world was still able to clearly recognize their products. The color of the cans, as well as the iconic curved white line in the middle, is as clear of an indicator for the brand as its logo, however, unlike the logo, it is completely language-independent. Of course, the chance of a startup reaching the same level of brand recognition isn’t that high, however, what you can do is set your mindset in this direction. For instance, you can try to tell your story in images rather than verbalize it and in this way breach the language barrier.

Outsource

In the present-day business world, achieving a global reach is nearly impossible without outsourcing. This is due to the fact that you simply can’t reach that quality of service with your in-house team without some major investments. Subsequently, if you reach a certain level of expertise in your own field of specialty, you will start outsourcing certain features, and in this way more than justifies this deficit. As for the quality of services, outsourcing significantly expands your talent pool. For instance, you get to work with a renowned Hong Kong SEO company, collaborate with customer service experts from India and manufacture products in China. In other words, you get a much higher department cost- efficiency on every level possible.

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Remote workers

Aside from working with remote agencies, you can resort to hiring individuals in the same manner, as well. With remote workers, you get to increase your talent pool, which can help you get the most efficient experts on your team, without going through too much trouble. However, aside from this transparent efficiency in productivity, you also get to diversify your operations. In other words, you get to further diversify your company, which may give you a greater insight into a greater number of regions. All in all, in a situation where you decide to include another market to the list, you get the privilege of knowing at least one local professional that you can rely on, even if it’s just an advice you need.

Competition

One of the greatest misconceptions about the competition is the idea that this is somehow an exclusively bad thing. In reality, this is only true if you have nothing fresh to offer. Competitors that come before you can prepare the market for your arrival and even make a contrast in favor of your superior offer. Upon your arrival, the local customer base will compare you to your competitors and, if you have a superior offer, you will be regarded more highly than if they had no point of reference whatsoever. Moreover, a healthy competition indicates a well-developed market, which often turns out to be much more lucrative.

Providing customer support in more languages

Finally, there’s no better way to show the local market just how highly you value them as customers than to address them in their local language. While creating a local version of your website (with a local extension) is a great idea it is even more important to include a customer support in their language. This is due to the fact that such a thing provides a direct value to your customers, which is something that they are bound to appreciate. In the era of chatbots, this can be pulled off even without having to hire local customer support representatives or outsourcing to a local customer support agency.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each region has its own rules of the game and that sometimes startups have a hard time penetrating their local market, let alone becoming an international trend. Sure, starting a campaign for every single region is certainly more efficient but it isn’t necessarily worth your while. For the time being, establishing a global presence through the above-listed five methods might be your safest bet.

5 Ideas to Give Your Startup a Tech Boost

When faced with a productivity problem, instead of having to expand your workforce, try to come up with a less-risky solution. After all, a workload increase might be just a fluke, which means that hiring more people might not work out for you in the long run. Furthermore, you might be surprised just how many aspects of your business could use a bit of improvement. That being said, here are five ideas you can turn to in order to give your startup an immediate tech boost.

Automated finances

The first thing you can do to introduce your business into the 21st century is automating your financial processes. Namely, you can start by paying your bills online. An average business spends about $12 on paying a single bill, whereas, if done electronically, this can be reduced to as little as $1,5. Apart from saving you a small fortune over the course of years, automating your finances like this will also save you a lot of time.

Apart from this, you might want to automate your payment collecting system which will make it much easier for you (or your accountant) to make financial estimates and projections. A lot of people downplay the importance of doing this in digital form. However, it gives you a greater overview of your company’s incomes and outcomes. In other words, if there is any foul-play in your company or an irregularity of any kind, it will be much easier to notice it. That is to say that, as long as everything is running smoothly, handling your finances will take a lot less effort.

Digital marketing

The next aspect of your business that is in desperate need of digitalization is your marketing. First of all, digitizing your marketing is nowhere near as difficult as you might have assumed. Sure, SEO, PPC marketing and Facebook advertising may require a bit more finesse and expertise, but you can easily establish your social media presence, reach out to influencers and start blogging on your own. In fact, businesses on a budget have so many free tools and resources available, that it becomes plain reckless not to use them to your benefit.

The greatest advantage, however, lies in the availability of reliable learning materials. Never before was it so easy to acquire a skill, whether through independent internet research or by taking an online course. All in all, improving your digital marketing is definitely a tech boost that your company needs and stands to benefit from greatly.

Proper office hardware

In previous two sections, we went to lengths to discuss the way in which your company can benefit from various tech trends. However, the way in which these platforms run and perform greatly depends on your hardware. While renting out office hardware may seem like a growing trend, it is still more reliable to simply purchase your own equipment.

Keep in mind that different laptops have different keyboard sensitivity, screen size and other similar properties, which is why you want to appease the majority by getting their preferred brand. For instance, you can get Lenovo X1 laptop for those staff members who need high-end machines.  

Customer service

When it comes to the general user experience (UX), there’s nothing more important than customer service. This, however, is a double-edged sword. Sure, showing professionalism can do wonders for the overall brand loyalty and help your audience pay more attention to you as a business. Apart from this, it can also make a massive improvement in your damage-control efforts (a sizeable PR boost). However, its absence can harm your brand in more ways than you can imagine.

There are two tech-savvy solutions to this problem. The first one, that is much more popular, is the idea of outsourcing your customer service to countries such as India that particularly specialize in this area. The second, more cost-effective option, is to look into chatbots. Throughout the years, these chatbots have grown much more reliable and sophisticated. Moreover, they respond instantly, which is always a huge plus.

Collaboration

At the end of the day, by properly utilizing the trend of telecommuting, you can expand your talent pool and run a more frugal business. First of all, you won’t have to pay for travel expenses (which also reduces the carbon footprint of your company). Second, you won’t have to lease a bigger office, seeing as how a significant part of your workforce will be operating from their own homes. All in all, hiring remote workers and freelancers is much easier if done through specialized platforms. Also, collaboration tools will help you coordinate these teams when working on massive projects.

Conclusion

One of the first things that you might have noticed is the fact that there is a tech solution for virtually any potential problem your company might be faced with. However, whether or not you manage to embrace and enforce it in your office depends exclusively on your own managerial skills, as well as how tech savvy you are. Nevertheless, even if you don’t intend to use most of these trends, just knowing they’re available can be quite reassuring.

Marketing Technology: How to Modernize Your Advertising

Things to Consider Before Taking Your Business Global

Once upon a time, it seemed like a notion light-years away from becoming a reality, but your small business is finally ready to make its first step outside your national borders. You are about to take on the challenge of building your own Roman Empire, if you will. And for that, you need resolve, patience and exceptional business expertise, in order to succeed in the ever-growing competitive atmosphere of the world.

Before you make your transition official, you should take into consideration several essential aspects of your business that will determine whether you will be able to meet the global market’s needs and stay relevant on what will soon become a borderless scale.

Think locally, act globally

You might be used to focusing on expanding your business one city at a time, but when it comes to moving beyond your cultural comfort zone, you need to retain the same frame of mind in order to access the essence of global. Every single country and territory is made up of unique and authentic characteristics, and their peoples have different preferences, so going global in a way means that you will go local one country at a time until you actually gain a worldwide presence.

Each society has its norms, their customs, traditions, language and core values may be entirely different from what you are used to seeing in your own home country, and your brand needs to be ready for the culture shock you’re about to experience. Every solid international strategy needs in-depth research conducted beforehand, to identify and incorporate the most important cultural differences that will make or break your endeavor.

Adapt your language

A major segment of your globalization efforts will revolve around fine-tuning your language for a wider audience, and preferably, in their own native tongues. This is where your understanding of a country comes into play, since no decent brand copy, including your product presentation, online or offline, can be created without considering the language finesses of each territory.

As true as it may be that English has become the go-to global language for all companies, you should remember that it’s one thing to vaguely understand the basic concepts of what your company does, and a completely different problem to not get lost in translation and achieve the same emotional connection through the local community’s native language. Words make for a wonderful vessel for people to relate to your brand, and you cannot afford not to use it wisely.

Learn the legal ropes

Whether you plan to import your product, make it locally, or sell your services through agents dispersed all across the globe, your business has to comply with all the laws and regulations of each country in which you operate. Before you even begin the transition, learn what it takes, from paperwork to adapting your legal language and tone, to become a recognized legal entity in each country.

Your licenses, documentation and all paperwork should be in perfect order before you move your business overseas, and to do that, it would be wise to consult a professional legal counsel to stay a few steps ahead of the global game.

Employee incentives

What is a company without its loyal employees, who are at the same time your brand’s most important ambassadors? They will be the pillars of your success, because no international endeavor can survive without a strong local foundation willing to put its heart, soul and expertise into the venture. And it’s your duty to create the drive and enthusiasm that will fuel your business and create that strong basis for expansion.

Depending on your business and available options, you can create the right company culture – from offering your employees share option plans and providing them with educational opportunities, cash incentives and more vacation time, to more flexible work hours, you have an endless list of choices to make this enormous effort worth their while.

Prep your budget

If you thought that funding and building a business from scratch was a hassle, think again. Branching out onto the world’s map means that you will need significant investments, which you will in all likelihood, underestimate to begin with. To prevent being flooded by costs you cannot cope with, you will need to define and continuously redefine your budget for this endeavor.

Take into account all the different tax laws, customs, legal expenses, import and export costs, hiring local people or sticking to a local operation that ships globally, etc. While you definitely need to brace yourself for losing money in the early stages of your growth, there’s no need to waste money if you can prevent unneeded expenses from day one.

Is your product ready?

Upon completing your research and analysis phase, and adapting your brand image and language to the local cultures, start implementing the results to your product or service. However, if you are already a business of many facets and have a wide selection of products to choose from, it’s not wise to go all out and immediately present your entire offer to the world.

Instead, adjust one product that you are certain will fill a market gap and be a good fit for a given territory, and launch it to test the waters. Once you see the initial reaction and how much trust your brand is establishing with the new audience, you can move on to expanding your product list to become available to the rest of the world.

9 Actionable Tips for Hiring Employees for Your Home Office

Consider yourself lucky if you have the good fortune of being able to run and build your business from home. When the business is new, you might be the only person working for it. However, as it begins to grow and expand, you might need to hire employees. Hiring an employee for your home office is as challenging as finding the right roommate. The following tips can help you sidestep a lot of issues.

1. Discuss With Your Family

You never know how your family might react to the prospect of having a stranger share their private space. It is important to discuss with them from the get-go so that they know what to expect. Have them understand that the person is an employee and not a guest. Be sure to mention that they will not need to feed the person or have to make other inconveniencing arrangements.

2. Opt for Full Disclosure

You do not want to have prospective employees wondering whether they got the wrong address. Full disclosure presents you as a person who is straightforward and considerate. You do not want a potential employee weighing whether or not they want to work from someone else’s home as they walk down the hallway. Non-disclosure might have them thinking you have something to hide.

3. Interview Your Candidate

You will need to watch how candidates behave once they arrive at your home office. Do they look comfortable and at ease? Do not hesitate to ask them how they feel about it all. Attentively listen as they answer, understanding what they say and what they leave unsaid. If you had told them about it right off the bat and they seem uneasy during the interview, hire someone else.

4. Perform a Background Check

Experience and skills matter a lot, but character and integrity carry much more weight than these two qualities. It is better to hire someone worthy of trust even though they are inexperienced than hire an experienced person about whom you have trust issues. Be sure to conduct a thorough background check on all candidates. Ask people you trust for recommendations. You can always train a person, but you cannot induce character.

5. Set Up a Suitable Workspace

Your employee needs privacy; you must spend some money to create a bit of privacy around their work area. Offer them an atmosphere like the one they would expect in a traditional office. Provide them with a desk, a chair, as well as the tools and technological devices they need to work efficiently — a computer, wireless connection, a phone, and so on. The office needs to be well-lit, too; consider hiring a professional to help you design the office. Finally, have your family understand that the office is off-limits.

6. Add a Separate Entrance

Invest some money in designing an office having its own entrance. The less likely it is that employees will meet someone from your family as they enter the office the better. Also, it creates a sense of professionalism, making everyone feel comfortable. While you might need to spend some money to achieve this, it is worth it in the end.

7. Invest in Housekeeping Services

You are the boss, and you do not want your employees to come across dirty dishes in the kitchen. It makes perfect sense to hire a housekeeper. Having someone who does your dishes, vacuums the carpet, and cleans the bathrooms makes the home office a nicer place for your employees. Also, such an arrangement makes you feel confident.

8. Define Your Terms

This is a job, and you have expectations just like they have. Make it known right from the outset that you expect them to respect and follow all the rules and deliver results. Giving them an employee handbook demonstrates that you take your duties as a manager seriously. The manual should carry policies on office rules, working hours, use of office phone, sick days and any other relevant matter.

9. Set Your Boundaries

Being clear about the boundaries relating to their presence at your home is critical. They need to know from the beginning the rooms they can enter and those they cannot. Can your employee use your kitchen to prepare their lunch? Do you want them to leave during their lunch break? What about bathroom arrangements? Ensure you have a bathroom for office use, too.

In Conclusion

Being able to work from home is an exciting opportunity. However, it can be daunting if you have no idea how to handle hiring employees to work in your home office. Do background checks, tell candidates and family what to expect, set rules and boundaries, and build an office with own entrance. These simple tips should help you to hire the right person and keep them.

How to Build a Stellar Brand and Rock the Social Media Ecosystem

In a vast and diverse online landscape, there are many channels and tools to explore. In the midst of all the digital hustle and bustle, major social platforms stand as real giants. From their shoulders, brands can extend their reach and make their messages resonate with a global audience.

Indeed, many businesses have managed to work miracles with their social media accounts. They became globally recognizable and have enhanced their bottom line in the process. But, make no mistake that this is a huge endeavor. Namely, one has to find a way to form a killer strategy and execute it in order to stand out among cohorts of competitive brands.

A tumultuous social age

Social media platforms are a next big business frontier. Consumers flock there to casually share and comment, but also interact with brands and get to know their human face. This creates immense opportunities to engage and delight. Of course, making it happen is much easier said than done. It requires a rock-solid strategy and a long-term commitment.

One of the first things to figure out is which network to pick as a distribution channel. You might want to use more than one but bear in mind that spreading yourself too thin is not the best idea, especially if you’re working with limited resources. The basic rule is simple: You have to be present on hubs that your target audience frequents.

An angle of approach

A thorough research is the cornerstone of your branding strategy. It allows you to tell in advance, with relative certainty, whether your campaigns will hit the mark or not. Just be aware that adults aged 18-34 are the most likely to follow a brand via social media (96%). So, if you cater to the older population, you might want to think twice before investing in branding there.

In general, networks with the largest user base (like Facebook and Twitter) offer an unparalleled reach and should be considered first. Then again, there are some niche platforms that could make sense in terms of what you do and industry sector you operate in. Likewise, image-heavy networks such as Pinterest and Instagram are a great marketing landscape to dispense your product photos and other visual assets.

Name of the social game

In any event, once you weigh all the pros and cons and identify the best channel, come up with a game plan on how to engage the audience there. To get inspired, you can take lessons from some of the best thought-out campaigns out there. They all have something in common: a deep understanding that modern businesses must add value to the lives of the customers.

Moreover, established brands are well aware that social media profiles pose powerful customer service tools. They provide around-the-clock support and display impressive responsiveness. Also, they keep up to date with prominent trends such as the surge in mobile usage. There were 2.56 billion of global social media users who accessed those networks via mobile devices in 2017. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to tailor the experience to their wants and needs.

Coming on top

There are some other trends that enable your brand to get into the limelight. Visual content reigns supreme: it is 40 times more likely to be shared than other types of content. So, ramp up your image and video production capacities. Quality content is an integral part of all good campaigns. Just make sure to produce a regular stream of it in accordance with your content calendar.

Furthermore, note that, although people discuss brands quite a lot, 96% of users does not actually follow brand-owned accounts. This is to say that businesses have to get creative and navigate around the distrust or weariness that users tend to exhibit towards businesses. The trick is to look beyond your corporate channels and launch campaigns that deviate from the traditional advertising logic.

Stay vigilant

Next, let us address one thing that often gets overlooked: keeping track of key performance indicators is vital. In other words, implement a robust social media monitoring strategy. Monitor non-branded conversations for brand mentions. Evaluate your engagement rates and how many social signals you generate. Actively manage brand health at all times. Stay flexible and adjust your strategy should it fail to bear fruit.

This may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured that social media branding pays rich dividends in the long run.

Around 71% of customers who have had a positive experience with a brand recommends it to others. Hence, you have a chance to make the most of word-of-mouth promotion and spread awareness far and wide.  Finally, remember that social signals, although not an official ranking factor, do affect your position in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Polishing the competitive edge

Social media networks are major public arenas for brand-building. Before diving in, you need to test the digital waters and use acquired insights to create targeted campaigns.

Create a branded environment where customers feel appreciated and valued. Keep an eye on trends to stay on top of the game. Learn how to tell an engaging story and social media user people in. This should enable you to build lasting foundations of trust with your existing customers and win new people over at the same time.

Carry out branding with the maximum marketing impact: Get the word out there and cut through the marketing noise like a knife through hot butter.

How Can Good SEO Help Potential Customers Find Your Startup?

SEO might not be fast or easy, but it’s still necessary in today’s business world. And if you’re just starting your business, it’s definitely worth your time.

It will allow you to generate new leads, attract new customers and ultimately, increase sales by boosting your visibility in search engines. But let’s start from the beginning.

What exactly is SEO?

In short, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and many people consider it the main digital tactic companies use to attract new customers online.

The first thing you need to know about SEO is that it isn’t a short-term tactic. It’s better described as a “collection of tactics” that you can use to improve your presence on the Internet.

Search engines – we’ll mostly be taking about Google, since it holds more than 90% of search market share – rank sites based on their relevance and quality.

You can use SEO to improve your rankings by optimizing your site and using certain tactics that Google deems useful for users. Now let’s take a look at how SEO can help small businesses attract new audiences.

SEO for small-to-mid-size businesses

If you opt for SEO, your main goal should be to use a number of different tactics to improve your rankings. Search engine visibility is crucial for your success, since most customers research their purchases on the Internet before they make a decision.

As we said, SEO is a collection of strategies and techniques that work together as a part of your overall marketing strategy. Its main aim is to improve your position in organic search results – not paid results, that’s a completely different thing – and some of the most important SEO strategies include:

  • UX and site architecture
  • Content creating and marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Analytics and keyword research
  • Link building and outreach

Before we start talking about these tactics in more detail, let’s see why this is so important for your business and what results you can expect from a successful SEO strategy.

Why is SEO important for your site?

In this day and age, a small business lives and dies by its marketing efforts and as we established before, SEO is an important part of online marketing efforts.

Look at it like this, if a potential customer can’t find your site on Google, you practically don’t exist to that customer. And if you think SEO is only important at the moment, you’re terribly wrong.

The practice has been around for more than two decades at this point and according to Market Dive research, more than 80% of marketers see SEO as becoming even more effective in the future.

How to create a successful SEO strategy

The main goal of any SEO strategy is to generate more leads and increase your customer base in the process, not just increase your rank in Google. If you want to do things properly, it would be smart to hire an SEO consultant company. Preferably a reputable one, like this New York based SEO company.

If not, you can actually try do everything on your own. However, you have to be prepared for a ton of work and mistakes along the way.

  • On-site SEO tactics:  Every piece of content on your website, from blog posts to images, needs to be properly optimized for Google, or any other search engine you plan on focusing on.
  • Off-site SEO tactics: Link building is one of the main aspects of off-page SEO and it includes reaching out to various sites and influencers who might find your site and content useful.
  • Mobile-friendliness: A vast majority of people today browse the Internet on their mobile devices. That’s why you need to optimize your site for mobile and make sure that everything works perfectly on all devices.  

Of course, tracking your SEO campaigns is always time-consuming and at times, it can be quite stressful. So, if you want to track the performance of your SEO activities, you should try using a professional digital marketing dashboard that will give you a view of how all your marketing activities are performing.

Conclusion

In the end, you’re probably wondering how much all of this will cost you. This is a tricky question, because the line between digital marketing and SEO is pretty thin. Some companies out there are even combing their marketing budgets with their SEO budgets.

In order to determine how much you should spend on search engine optimization, here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:

  • How much do you expect to make this year?
  • What’s your chosen industry?
  • How many competitors do you really have?

If you’re able to set aside around five percent of your overall revenue for long-term SEO efforts, you’ll definitely be able to see an increase in sales during the first year of your business venture.

How HR Continues To Evolve, Technologically and Politically

How HR Continues To Evolve, Technologically and Politically

Changes in human resources are driven by a number of overlapping factors, including the demographics of both the workplace and surrounding society; political climate and legislation coming out of it; and the development of new technology.

The rise of tech startups have created a lot of change in business communities and shifted the expectations of employees. Add breakthroughs in cloud services and management software, and authentication into the mix, and it’s easy to see how the tech boom has had a major effect on the procedures and culture of HR.

Hiring and Interview

Finding job seekers is getting easier and easier. On the other hand, as easy as job sites like Indeed and social networks like LinkedIn have made posting ads, they’ve also allowed a larger number of job seekers to respond.

Recruiters and hiring managers must deal with a much greater volume of applicants if they choose to make use of internet job postings. The benefit is that it’s easier to find the right candidate. LinkedIn and resume upload sites have made it especially easy for savvy HR professionals to target the skills they’re looking for and search for candidates more intentionally.

On the interview side, things are changing too. Skype and other video and voice-over IP apps are making remote interviews a more robust and common process. Being able to interview over long distances is exposing recruiters to talent from far-flung places. 43 percent of Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely, according to The New York Times. Remote work is changing office environments, and it’s changing the way companies hire, giving them access to employees hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Company Culture

The hiring process is closely related to company culture, but it’s an idea that goes far beyond the initial hire.

This is where the tech startup world has made a huge influence. “Company culture” has almost achieved buzzword status in job ads. Both prospective job seekers and employers are putting a heavy emphasis on “fitting in” with the company culture.

This has come with advantages and disadvantages. Tech companies in particular have shown how “culture” can be taken way too far. There have been a number of high-profile cases where culture has been used to justify abuse, inaction, or discrimination.

Company culture is a powerful and popular tool to ensure that businesses and employees truly make the most of their personnel. Every work environment is different, and hiring an employee with the right skills but the wrong demeanor can be more damaging than hiring someone who needs extra training.

Contracts and Consent

One of the biggest developments in recent years has been the ability to handle contracts, compliance, performance reviews, consent forms, and anything else that people need to sign digitally. HR departments have been leveraging digital signatures to streamline and more effectively track important documents.

Paperwork that can be signed electronically can be carefully controlled and tracked. A performance review can be signed in order, first by the employee, then by their manager, and added to their digital record without any printing, scanning, or physical transportation. The process becomes shorter and easier to track.

Timestamps recorded on electronic signatures are more accurate, and the digitizing process is better for privacy and compliance because control is kept of the document at all times. It’s easy to track who has access to it. Signing something electronically may not feel very safe, but electronic signatures are built of digital signature technology which provides encryption and verification, making the whole process very secure.

Communications Technology

Some companies are choosing to adopt high-tech communications technology within their workplaces as a way to improve efficiency of both employees and HR processes.

Chat applications are one way that companies improve communication, letting employees interact with each other and their managers in real time to discuss topics or pose questions that they wouldn’t ordinarily interrupt one another with.

Another high-tech communications solution comes with digital signage that HR can leverage to cut down on emails, poster printing, and newsletter composition. Announcements of events, important legal updates or performance metrics can instead be simultaneously displayed across a number of devices. That way, employees have information available at a glance without having to open a distracting email whenever there’s a company announcement.

Safety and Compliance

Workplace safety has changed a lot over the years. From the days of steelworkers clambering unassisted on top of skyscrapers and employees handling asbestos, the law and cultural attitudes about safety have made dramatic turns. So too is it with liability surrounding legal rights of employees, such as overtime laws and “theft of employee time”.

One of the biggest changes has been the uptick in retroactive legal action against companies that engaged in unsafe and unlawful practices. Though HR teams were always tasked with compliance and liability limitation, as lawsuits become more prevalent and potentially damaging, Human Resource’s role in protecting the company, and by proxy the company’s employees, has been magnified in recent years.

HR departments work tirelessly to create inclusive, safe workspaces that don’t discriminate or place employees in unsafe situations without a reasonable notice and acceptance of risk. Digital tools are making this process easier and will continue to influence the shape of human resources as we discover new ways to track, authenticate, and communicate.